Aldersgate SG 2014: Diving Deep Into Discipleship

“Discipleship is a craft. This was nowhere more evident than in Wesley’s concerns for living out the Gospel in 18th century England.”

– The Rev Dr David Lowes Watson

It was a memorable four days. Guest speaker, the Rev Dr David Lowes Watson, provided participants with many memorable “soundbites”, perhaps in keeping with today’s growing preference for short, often “acronymised” descriptives.

This approach seemed to have worked well. In addition, Dr Watson’s articulate and eloquent preaching skills, interwoven with his brilliant story-telling, brought the more than 270-year-old story of John Wesley – his beliefs, what he did, and what shaped his beliefs – to life!

Based on participants’ feedback – both verbal as well as in the over 250 feedback forms returned – phrases like “spiritual mid-wife”, “learn the craft of discipleship”, “share Gospel essentials

in five minutes”, “the method of Methodism” and “God’s gospel works from small beginnings” (salt, light, leaven, seed), were key takeaways that resonated well with this year’s Aldersgate participants.

Indeed, Dr Watson dived deep into the “heart” of discipleship, fleshed out its “life”, and underscored the core purpose of this event – which was to bring The Methodist Church in Singapore together – regardless of conference lines – as one body to appreciate and better understand our Wesleyan tradition.

Each of the lectures were “building blocks”, as Dr Watson spoke on “Born of the Spirit”, before leading us to “Salvation & Discipleship”. On the third evening – May 24 – participants convened for the Aldersgate Service, to remember John Wesley’s “heart-warming experience” on the same day in 1738, with Dr Watson concluding his teaching with a lecture entitled “Anointed by the Spirit of the Lord” – or what do you do after your heart is warmed.

At the Service, the beautiful sanctuary of Toa Payoh Methodist Church resounded with the music and choral singing of Wesley Methodist Church members, including the Sunbeam children’s choir, all under the baton of Mr Jusuf Kam, their Worship and Music Director.

Listen to all three lectures online, including the Mandarin translation, and view the Photo Gallery taken at the four-day event at: aldersgate.message.methodist.org.sg

“Give us the grace to receive it, and give us the charity to let all the other words slip away.”
– Dr Watson

Iris Lew, Living Hope Methodist Church
I liked the speaker’s illustration about how our spiritual life begins like how darkness surrounds a child in a mother’s womb. Before being born, the child in its mother’s womb cannot hear or see anything, and is surrounded by darkness. We can’t see or hear God unless we are born again.

Jason Ng, Holy Covenant Methodist Church
I encouraged my cell group to attend tonight’s lecture instead of having our usual meeting. I liked that there was more clarity between salvation and discipleship.

Timothy Toh Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church
The message of salvation and discipleship was straightforward, and I felt that was good because we tend not to see it as important or trivialise it, or let other messages take more attention.

Michael Ong, Shawn Ong, Daryus
Hoong, Charmaine Chong

Praise Band – Wesley Methodist Church
It was good to see the different parts of the Body of Christ coming together. It was a new experience for us, and we gelled with the choir and brass band. We also found it interesting that the programme was in English, Chinese and Tamil, especially when different parts of the same song were sung in different languages.

Michael Ong
I think it’s important for youths to sing hymns as well. There’s been a revival of hymns or hymn-like songs, and it’s interesting to see how youths can engage with hymns. If we use more contemporary songs, we can attract more youths to attend. We can use hymns placed in contemporary settings such as “Man of Sorrows”, or “Amazing Grace” (Chris Tomlin).

Benita Devi Jurong Tamil Methodist Church
It was good being part of the ETAC choir at this event – even though the choir was small, we praise God for the opportunity.

Francis Yong Charis Methodist Church
I liked the mix of contemporary and traditional music, as my impression was that Aldersgate was a traditional event. I hope to see a mix of younger congregation at such events. The band and the other musical instruments helped focus on worshipping.

Photos courtesy of Daniel Lie